936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting
Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!
When my husband met me he thought I was Irish. It was an obvious assumption. The name Eryn literally translates as “Ireland”; and I was, at the time, spending a month in Northern Ireland. Technically we met online, that story is for another day, but the little he knew of me was influenced by the photos I was sharing on Facebook of me standing before gorgeous stone Catholic churches and the brilliant Irish Sea.
His false notions could not stand the test of time, and at some point after we had met face to face he realized that I was not actually Irish. No, I am Polish. Still he loved me; his lasting affection I am sure partly owed to the fine cuisine of my heritage, namely the fact that I could make a mean Polish Pierogi.
Corned beef is something I avoided up until recent years. Its unfortunate name gives off an aura of mysterious, gelatinous meat; which corned beef is anything but. I didn’t even know it was Irish, and so when Grayson mentioned that he liked it, I assumed it was something from his own Norwegian heritage, which conjured up in my mind thoughts of something like lutefisk, a gelatinous dried fish that has been rehydrated and then soaked in lye, which is actually toxic. Somehow the process makes the fish edible, but that’s debatable.
If corned beef was anything like lutefisk, I wanted nothing to do with it. Little did I know; and there laid the source of my misfortune: I knew little. Fear of the unknown too often keeps us from the great things in life, like corned beef.
It ends up that corned beef is not mysterious in the least bit. It’s beef brisket, cured in a salt water and spice brine for 7-10 days, then boiled. And somehow, it is outstanding. Like—really, really outstanding! The only mysterious thing about it is the question of why it goes so unsung, playing off of Saint Patrick’s spotlight for its own brief fifteen minutes of fame each March. Unfortunately, around Saint Patrick’s day, I’d bet that people are more familiar with fluorescent green Shamrock Shakes than traditional foods like corned beef.
We do ourselves a disservice when we stick to only what we know—only what is comfortable and familiar—when it comes to what we eat. It is important for not only our view of food, but really our view of the world, to branch out not only to our own heritage dishes, but to understand and appreciate all of the different fares, customs, and traditions of the greater world around us. With each new venture and each new taste, our eyes are opened to understand the world just a little clearer; to step outside of our own small existence and broaden it just a little bit wider.
I read an article in a magazine this week about a Danish tradition called Snobrod. The author explained this tradition as a “delightful and exclusive kind of street food”. It is exclusive in that it centers itself on playgrounds and in schoolyards, its participants of the variety of those with missing front teeth, vibrant in imagination, and short in stature—children.
“Snobrod is as much an activity as it is a snack.” He went on to explain this tradition of children gathering around an open fire, twisting bread dough around sticks, and then patiently (or not so much) roasting their bread. Once baked to perfect char on the outside, and fresh doughy goodness on the inside, they enjoy their delicacy stuffed with raspberry jam or cheese.
Of course, influenced by my own cultural understanding, the idea of some man, without children, setting a fire near a playground and enticing young children to come play by the flames and enjoy food made from scratch seems ludicrous. For goodness sake, the Danish children take a break from school midday to partake in this delicious practice! Yet it is only when we can take that uncomfortable step outside of our own cultural preconceptions and dare to explore another peoples’ traditions that we can really begin to understand and celebrate the world on a larger scale.
You can bet that along with graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate squares, my children will also be roasting raw bread dough wrapped around sticks around our family fires, and all while we tell them stories of Danish children doing the same across the Atlantic Ocean. A little charred dough can go a long way in teaching them about the world!
My best friend from college grew up in Ireland. That is why I found myself in Northern Ireland way back when Grayson assumed I was Irish. During the month I spent there, we traveled all over the countryside visiting Shanelle’s family and friends. Very quickly I learned something about visiting with the Irish: always come prepared for tea and cookies. Sometimes we would visit two or three families a day, and let’s just say that if I hadn’t achieved the “freshman fifteen” the previous semester, the generosity and hospitality of the Irish fixed that!
I learned a whole lot about Irish history and traditions from the people of Ireland, but what meant the most to me came from a letter I received while there. It was from my grandmother back in the states, who would pass away later that year from cancer. Her letter spoke of how excited she was for me to experience her beloved Europe. Reading her words, I could see her reminiscing of her own growing up. I was falling in love with her Europe; the visiting, the tea, the cookies, the sharing of stories, the time spent building relationships. Though no Irish blood ran in our veins, and our time spent in Europe were decades apart, through the likeness of our experiences we came to know each other just a little bit better. Food can do that.
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!